Five Little League® Graduates Enter the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown
Little League® and the National Baseball Hall of Fame are both 75 years old this year, but that’s not all they have in common. Five of the six newest members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame have ties to Little League.
On Sunday, July 27, in Cooperstown, N.Y., the inclusiveness of baseball was on full display when Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas, two diminutive finesse pitchers and a hulking power hitter; and World Series-winning managers Joe Torre and Bobby Cox - all Little League® graduates – entered the HallTony La Russa was the sixth member of the 2014 election class. Mr. La Russa was elected in a December 2013 vote by the Veterans Committee along with Mr. Torre and Mr. Cox.
Mr. Maddux, who grew up playing Little League in Madrid, Spain on Torrejón Air Base, and in Las Vegas, and Mr. Glavine a graduate of Billerica (Mass.) Little League, are 300-game winners and former teammates with the Atlanta Braves during the team’s run of 14 consecutive National League East Division titles.
Frank Thomas, a Little League alumnus from Peach Little League in Columbus, Ga., was the American League’s Most Valuable Player in 1993 and ’94, and joins Mr. Maddux and Mr. Glavine as the Hall’s first class of three, first-time electees since 1999.
More than 500 Major League Baseball writers submitted Hall of Fame votes this year and Mr. Maddux appeared on a near-record 97.2 percent of ballots cast. The percentage of ballots on which he appeared was slightly behind that of fellow Little League alums and Major League Baseball greats Cal Ripken (98.5 percent in 2007) and Tom Seaver, who holds the record percentage at 98.84, set when he was selected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1992.
In this year’s balloting, Mr. Glavine collected 91.9 percent and Mr. Thomas 83.7 percent of the votes.
Just ahead of Mr. Maddux in terms of highest percentage of votes cast was the late San Diego Padres’ icon Tony Gwynn. Entering the Hall with 97.6 percent, in 2007, Mr. Gwynn visited the Little League Baseball® World Series as a member of the ESPN broadcast team in 2004 and 2006. Mr. Gwynn passed away on June 16 at the age of 54.
Through a playing career that spanned 22 years and six teams, Mr. Maddux won 355 games, the second-most since 1930. He was the first pitcher to win four consecutive Cy Young awards, posting at least 15 victories in a record 17 consecutive seasons. He won a record 18 Gold Glove awards. He had a career earned run average of 3.16.
During a 21-year Major League Baseball career, Mr. Glavine won more than 300 games, was a five-time 20-game winner, 10-time all-star, a World Series Champion and World Series Most Valuable Player.
Mr. Thomas played for 19 years and amassed a .301 career batting average with 521 home runs (18th all-time). He drove in 1,704 runs, good for 22nd all-time. In 1997, his .347 batting average was the best in the American League (AL) and in four different seasons he led the AL in on-base percentage.
Mike Mussina, former Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees pitcher, and current member of the Little League International Board of Directors received 22.3 percent of the vote in his first year of eligibility. Mr. Mussina grew up five miles from Little League International and played in the Montoursville (Pa.) Little League.